I’ve just read the US News and World Report cover story titled The New Mommy Track. As many others have done before, it talks about ways that working moms are opting out of traditional corporate careers and are finding ways to work with more flexibility. Besides being surprised - ok, and a little disappointed - that Work It, Mom! wasn’t included as a resource in this issue focused on working moms, I thought it was a good overview article until I read this paragraph:
2006 Lifetime Television poll found that the most popular goal among women ages 18 to 29 was to manage their own companies, with 47 percent of respondents choosing it. Yet becoming president of a major corporation was named by only 10 percent of respondents.
I’ve written here before about the great entrepreneurship trend among women (and moms) and why I think starting your own business is one of the best ways to gain some flexibility (I choose the 80 hours a week that I work.) But it’s the second part that worries me: If women don’t want to run big companies, is this a good thing?
It’s a bit hypocritical for me to write about this because I am one of those women. At one point in my career I was on a track that could lead me - well, in 15 years or so - to a position where I could run a large company or at least a large division of a company. I didn’t have kids back then and wasn’t even married, but I looked ahead and stepped off that track - nothing about it was attractive to me. I knew I could get the excitement, leadership, and sense of achievement and contributing something by working with smaller companies or starting one of my own; when I saw the lives that people who were in the high-powered corporate positions led, I knew it would be almost impossible to do that while spending enough time with family.
But if we don’t have women running large companies is this a good thing? What does it do to the ongoing fight for pay equality or having workplaces that understand moms and our needs to work differently? On an even broader scale, is it a good thing for our daughters to not see women in these high-powered positions?
I don’t have answers to these questions; I find that I am extremely conflicted when I think about them. I think women should have the opportunity to run whatever companies they choose and I think we can do a damn great job of it. But I also know that that type of lifestyle is hardly compatible with being a mom and have no idea how people like Meg Whitman do it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions, so please share them here.
For some interesting findings about the corporate glass ceiling for women, check out this post from The Work/Life Balancing Act.Â